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OMC Stroke Center Awarded State Stroke Center designation

OMC Stroke Center Awarded State Stroke Center designation

Stroke Team provides comprehensive, quick treatment for stroke patients

Ozarks Medical Center (OMC) has been designated a Level Two Stroke Center by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reflecting the organization’s commitment to stroke education, quick treatment and quality outcomes.

“When someone is suffering from a stroke, time and expertise are critically important from the first second.” said OMC Neurologist Dr. Clara Applegate. “We are extremely proud of our comprehensive stroke program and the team of professionals who respond quickly and efficiently to stroke, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

OMC applied for a Level II designation and was certified as such with zero deficiencies at the time of survey, the highest outcome possible. There are four levels of center designation. This is the second highest level of stroke center designation with a level one designation typically being found in academic and research hospitals. In 2014, OMC provided care to high volumes of stroke patients, 204 patients with stroke.

OMC’s multidisciplinary stroke team is made up of nurses, physicians, neurologists, ambulance services, therapists and Emergency Department workers who respond to stroke. According to Dr. Applegate, the first step is that people need to be aware and call 911. All of the EMS systems (ground and air ambulances) recognize that stroke is an emergency and that every minute counts, so as soon as the 911 call comes in, EMS notifies the stroke team at Ozarks Medical Center to be on alert. When the patient arrives at the hospital the stroke is confirmed by the doctors and CT scan is done right away. CT scan of the head must be done right away to avoid giving clot buster to someone with a hemorrhage or another problem. The “clot busting drug”, tPA, may be given right away if the diagnosis is confirmed and blood pressure is controlled.

The national standard is to administer the tPA within 60 minutes of arrival at the hospital. OMC’s average for 2014 was 46 minutes.

“We are very proud that OMC’s response time beats the national standard. The quicker someone can receive care for a stroke, the better the outcomes for their long-term health may be,” Dr. Applegate said. “Having a trained stroke response team ready to act allows us to rapidly identify and assess a patient’s condition. It is not always possible to prevent a stroke, but with timely, evidence-based care, it is possible to prevent many of the complications of stroke.”

Dr. Applegate said it is critical for those who may be experiencing a stroke to act fast and call 911.

“Even if you are close to the hospital, it is important to call 911,” she said. “The technicians can begin treatment in the ambulance and can alert the Emergency Department to put the OMC Stroke Team on alert.

The clot buster, tPA must be given within a 3 hours from the start of stroke symptoms. The American Heart Association reports that unfortunately, only 4 percent of stroke patients nationwide receive the recommended treatment in the key hours after stroke.

“OMC has worked diligently over the past 18 years to educate the community on the importance of fast action. Currently, we are able to treat 29% of ischemic strokes with tPA at Ozarks Medical Center, much higher than the national average. We treat 100% of strokes that are eligible for the treatment. We are striving for all patients who come to be treatable, but that depends upon the community. Too often, people wait to see if they'll get better. If they wait too long, we cannot administer tPA,” according to Dr. Applegate “We have been providing 24/7 stroke care since 1997 and with each year, we do a little better, as more people recognize that stroke is an emergency."

The signs of stroke are easy to remember using the acronym FAST (face, arm, speech, time): Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty and Time to call 911.

For more information on stroke or Target Stroke, contact the OMC Neurosciences Center at 417-257-6777.

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